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The Final Week

The final week of the legislative session is upon us, and with most of the House’s major work complete, all eyes were trained on the Senate.

Here is a compilation of the notable action from the House and Senate this week as we move quickly to the last day of the session next Thursday.

BUDGET – The Senate completed its three-week budget debate on Thursday, which should give the House a chance to review it and have the budget move to a House-Senate conference committee next week. We have not had the ability to fully review the Senate’s changes, so I can’t comment on where we may or may not agree. However, because it took the Senate so long to finish the budget, we will most likely have to return to Columbia after the final day of session to complete it.

ETHICS – The Senate placed the House’s Ethics Reform package on “special order”, which means it should be up for debate on the Senate floor next week. Despite attempts by a few powerful Democrats to keep this legislation from coming to the Senate floor, we are hopeful that the Senate will still take action on our plan this year.

GUN RIGHTS – The House Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would allow concealed weapons permit holders to bring their weapons into restaurants and bars. This passed the committee with wide, bi-partisan support. A subcommittee removed some arbitrary restrictions that would have been placed on concealed weapons holders last week, prompting praise from gun-rights groups. This legislation will be on the House floor next week.

OBAMACARE – The Senate also put H. 3101 on the calendar for “special order” this week (as part of a deal to also get the Ethics bill on special order). This legislation prohibits the state or its employees from aiding in the implementation of Obamacare.

FALCONRY – Yes, you read that correctly. One of the more light-hearted debates on the floor this week was over a law that would allow the ancient art of falconry to be legal in our state. Despite several bemused questions from House members about whether we were debating legislation from a time pre-dating the birth of Christ, the legislation was approved 103-0. It turns out there are 1,500 licensed falconers in the country, and the Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported in February that there are 75 licensed falconers in South Carolina all trying to revive the ancient art.

COLLEGE SAVINGS – If you or someone you know had a baby on May 29, that person is eligible for a grant of $529 to start a 529 college savings plan. The privately funded grant is available to anyone opening an account for their child by August 30. Contact the State Treasurer’s Office for more information.

June 6th is “Sine Die”, the official end of the session. I’ll update you next week on when the House will have to return to session to consider the budget, any outstanding conference committee reports, or governor’s vetoes.